VHS uses dominant 1st half to coast to 39-8 win over St. Patrick

Published 11:20 pm Friday, September 2, 2016

Varnado’s Wildcats used a dominating first-half performance to put away St. Patrick Catholic of Biloxi, Miss., early Friday night, on the way to a 39-8 win over the Fighting Irish in Varnado’s home opener.

Varnado (1-0) scored 33 unanswered points in the first half, finding the endzone both on the ground and through the air. Desmond Harry had two long touchdown runs, and quarterback James Williams was 2-for-2 passing for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

“We had some big plays and I was happy about that, but we also made a lot of mistakes for our first game,” Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said. “We’ve got to clean some things up, especially our penalties and turnovers.”

After leading 33-0 at halftime, Varnado’s coaches elected to let the offensive and defensive backups play for the entire second half. St. Patrick finally broke onto the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, but Varnado added another touchdown late when Jeroderick Robinson returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown with 1:12 remaining.

“I was proud of the way our young kids played,” Shaffett said. “They showed a lot of heart to compete, because St. Patrick still had most of their starters in the game in the second half. I thought giving up only one score in that half was a good performance for our younger guys.”

The Wildcats took just three plays to open the night’s scoring.

With 10:17 remaining in the first quarter, Harry broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run. The Wildcats failed to convert the two-point play, and led 6-0.

St. Patrick got off to a rough start on their ensuing offensive drive. After a touchback on the kickoff, the Irish had three straight penalties, moving the ball to first-and-25 from their own 5.

A run by Robert Starks gained no yards, and on the next play Varnado’s Armontee Kemp intercepted a pass from St. Patrick quarterback Carson Bishop, returning it 3 yards to the St. Patrick 2.

One play later, Williams ran it in for a 2-yard touchdown, and Jadarrell Magee added the two-point conversion to put the Wildcats up 14-0 with 9:00 left in the first quarter.

On the Wildcats’ next offensive possession, Williams hit Kemp in stride for a 43-yard touchdown catch. Damon Kirsch added the extra point to increase the Wildcats’ lead to 21-0 with 4:36 in the first.

St. Patrick put together a strong drive on its next possession, advancing down to the Varnado 27. Facing fourth-and-11, Bishop threw a pass toward the endzone, but Errol Varnado intercepted it and ended the Irish threat.

The Wildcats added two more touchdowns in the second quarter. Williams hit Travon Stokes for a 65-yard touchdown reception with 9:12 left, and Harry had a 39-yard scoring run with 1:25 remaining. The Wildcats missed both of the extra-point attempts.

Varnado’s first-half dominance was evident on both sides of the ball. The Wildcats held St. Patrick to just 16 yards of offense in the first half, including minus-10 yards rushing. Bishop was 4-of-9 passing for 26 yards, but threw two interceptions.

The Irish spoiled the shutout with 8:32 left in the fourth quarter. Bishop threw to Aaron Broadus for a 25-yard touchdown reception, and completed another pass to Tucker Santiago for the two-point conversion.

Shaffett said he was excited to see that the Wildcats completed the two long scoring passes.

“Obviously as a coach, you’d love to score a touchdown every time you throw a pass,” he said, with a laugh. “But we like the balance we have. We can throw the ball. We have a lot of guys who can go up and make plays.”

Varnado travels to face Pine next Friday. The Wildcats defeated the Raiders 39-17 last year.

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